Stories My Grandmother Told Me – 12

There is a special joy in simplicity. You don’t need many reasons to be happy, just a few good ones.

We lived simple lives, and simple things made us happy.

At weddings men walked great distances to find a Ghazal-Goy who could sing songs for the occasion.

On sunny winter days, grown men spent their time playing shighai and gowli on the roofs and big rock-slabs. The young pelted passersby with snowballs. We ate carrots, turnips, while lamb jerky was a delicacy reserved for special occasions.

The old were good storytellers; the young were keen listeners. Old white-bearded men gathered in small circles to sing ghazal. At night, we all got together, drank tea, told stories; the women spun their yarn, and told of tales from places beyond the mountains.

The birth of a son was a special occasion. Everyone had to sing – the young, the old, the able, and the talentless. Men covered themselves with chador and did aakhoo and charkhag. At one shawshini, GhulamLi dressed as a peerag. He knocked, and when I opened the door, he pushed his way through the door. I screamed, ran terrified and jumped into my father’s lap. They all laughed.

These days, people don’t talk straight. They talk in riddles. Life is not simple anymore.

*Ghazal = Traditional Hazaragi songs that combine Persian poetry with a variant of throat singing
*Ghazal-goy = Ghazal singer
*Shighai, Gowli = Traditional Hazaragi games played with animal bones
*Aakhoo, Charkhag = Traditional Hazaragi dances
*Shawshini = Tradition wherein the family stays awake the whole night singing, playing games, and eating sweets to celebrate the birth of a son
*Peerag = Old man; Young men disguise as old men as part of a Shawshini fun/game usually to scare the kids


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